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PRN website launches to increase transparency

A website has been launched to increase transparency in the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system.

Circularety, made by compliance firm Ecosurety, is an online platform for reprocessors to showcase their PRN projects.

Each listed project has a description and a photo, with options for a video. Producers using the service will then be able to choose which project they want to invest their PRN money.

They will be able to search for projects according to material and PRN type, investment opportunity, project location and the deadline a project needs to be completed by.

When they have selected a service, producers are committing to purchase a specific number of PRNs from that reprocessor at a set price, with the proceeds guaranteed to be invested in the listed project.

The platform invoices the producer automatically and generates a record which counts towards their PRN obligation.

Reprocessors will be spot-checked to ensure they are delivering the project, and will be required to make up the difference on any of their projects that do not receive 100% funding.

There will also be penalties at a contractual level to ensure reprocessors do not renege on their promises.

Producers that invest their PRNs in a completed project will receive a report detailing where and how their PRN money has been spent. Ecosurety says this will enable them to communicate about their investment in the recycling industry to their stakeholders.

The company also says that reprocessors using the service will be able to attract larger sums for investment.

Managing director James Piper (pictured below) said: “The PRN system is a good one in itself because it has helped the UK to increase its recycling rates significantly over the years.

“However, producers and industry bodies have expressed concern about the system, which does not encourage transparency – particularly in relation to what happens to PRN money once obligations have been purchased.

“Circularety means that, for the first time, producers will be able to choose exactly where their PRN money is spent, and reprocessors will be able to put forward concrete investment projects that will benefit the recycling industry.

“We anticipate Circularety will remove price volatility from the PRN system caused by uncertainty over PRN supply and demand.”


James Piper

The scheme will be trialled first with a selected number of producers and reprocessors. It is expected to go live from January 2017. Producers and reprocessors interested in joining can contact 0845 094 2228.

Critics of the current PRN arrangements include the Local Government Association, which represents councils.

Last year it called for greater transparency on the flow of finance from obligated producers to reprocessors and collectors, along with a greater proportion of compliance costs channelled towards boosting the quality of council recycling collections.

Phil Conran, chair of Defra’s Advisory Committee on Packaging, told MRW it was difficult to see how accredited operators could be forced to provide more transparency without regulatory change.

“Schemes and traders will sometimes receive more revenue per tonne than the reprocessor or exporter so, when we talk about transparency, we need to consider the whole revenue chain for PRNs.”

Duncan Simpson, marketing director of compliance scheme Valpak, welcomed any ideas which could benefit and improve the system.

But he added: “It will be important to ensure that it does not add extra administration burdens or costs to producers, and also does not restrict the ability of the system to be flexible and respond to changes in markets, technologies and targets.”

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